Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Farmwife's Journal - March 24th

Well, it looks as if our sugaring season is over.  What a strange season!  We had hoped to do some tours, but we just could not plan for them because the weather was so unpredictable!  Sadly the boiler only got fired up one time!  Since we need a good amount of sap to start the boiler, we had to just hold on to the sap we had collected and hope for more.  In the meantime, the sap in the barrel went bad because of the very warm weather, and we had to dump it. :(  All in all we ended up with about 4 gallons of boxelder syrup.  About the same as last year, which is somewhat surprising since the daytime temperature was so much higher during the run this year.  Nevertheless, it was fun collecting the sap, and we are looking forward to some good syrup on our pancakes and waffles! :)

As you have seen from the video, we are lambing!  Even though we only have a small flock, lambing season is always chaotic!  You must be ready to change your plans at any moment.  The first ewe to lamb (about two weeks ago) had a very hard time.  We knew she was in labor, but the poor thing just wasn't progressing.  Mike decided he needed to check her.  While I held her, Dr. Mike discovered that the baby's front legs were both back, which explained why the ewe was having so much trouble.  As Mike worked to get the legs forward, the ewe and I both groaned. :)  Having been in labor, I can only imagine what that ewe must be going through and it makes me ache inside! :(  Anyway, the baby was stillborn and was followed by a twin - also stillborn.  That was a sad beginning to our lambing season!  Our next three ewes had twins.  One mom ended up with mastitis which we cleared up with a homeopathic.  Her lambs got a little week, so Emily has been bottle feeding them with the milk she gets from milking our ewe who lost both her lambs and some formula, as needed.  They are doing much better now.  Then one of the lambs from a different ewe had lung congestion.  He sounded terrible when he breathed!  So we gave him several doses of garlic and honey and that cleared it up.  As I write, we have one ewe left to lamb.  She is HUGE - there must be three or four lambs in there! :)  We expected this ewe to go first, but she is following what seems to be the rule for ewes who are lambing and that is... to be unpredictable! :)

The plants under lights are growing well, so are the plants in the garden! :)  The spinach from last year looks great, and I will probably start picking some next week.  In March!  Can you believe it?  We are going to set up our outdoor greenhouse today and move the plant that are under lights into it.  We will keep a little heater in there just in case the weather does what it usually does in Minnesota. :) 
I finished my Family Herbalist course about a month ago, but I still have to take the test.  Since I had some extra time before the course needed to be completed, I thought I would just study more for the test before I sent for it.  But life has gotten so busy around here that I have not been studying.  I decided I'd better send for the test (I have two days to complete it and send it back) because then I will be forced to study and get it over with.  Mike and I have talked about the idea of me taking more classes, and he thinks I should.  The next set of courses will take me one year, in theory, hopefully I can get it done in half that time.  After that I will have two more years to complete the Master Herbalist program.  I am so hungry for the information that that seems like an eternity, but Mike tells me, "One step at a time!" :)  I have been known to get in over my head, so I have to be careful! :)  My role as a wife and mother are far more important to me than any thing else I could do in this life, and I don't want anything to sneak in and pull me away from that! :)

The puppies are doing well!  Princess went into heat this week for the first time.  She is 7 months old.  Boy, that was an experience!  It was quite amazing to see a 90 lb. dog get over a 4 foot fence, and she kept getting out until we finally, as a last resort, chained her up.  She had completely lost her mind!  The movie Bambi refers to that as "twitterpated" :)  But her pen is now electrified.  And needless to say, she is no longer attempting to escape. :) 

There is rarely a dull moment around here! :/

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

First Day of Sunshine

Yesterday our seedling got their first taste of the great outdoors. Around noon or so I took them out of their little greenhouse in the garage and put them out in the fresh air and sunshine. A few of the Rosemary seeds have now germinated, they are VERY slow and seem to have a low germination rate.

The mud is already drying up around our place. This is good for me psychologically (mud drives me crazy), but probably is not a good sign for the spring. We went into last fall very dry, and we need to get a lot of moisture in order to rehydrate the soils.

Tomorrow I am planning to fire up our evaporator and start boiling sap.  We will have around 120 gallons to boil, so that is a start.  This warm weather is messing up the season, but hopefully it is temporary and we will get back to normal highs and lows for the season.

Lambs should start arriving any day now.  Probably right on time for a few blizzards and below zero nights.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sugarin' Season Has Begun!

I finally took the time to learn how to use our Movie Maker...something I've been meaning to do for over a year.  For some reason I just couldn't find the time. :)  So here's my first movie!  It's nothing special, but I hope you enjoy it! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Farm Kittchen Menu - March 7th

HF Scrambled eggs with HF garlic and parsley
Homemade sourdough bread toasted with honey
Chai Tea (recipe below)


Taco Salad
mixed greens
ground pork with homemade taco seasoning
HF red onion
tortilla chips
plain yogurt

kefir shake (frozen bananas, HF frozen strawberries, vanilla, HF kefir, goat milk)

Homemade Split Pea soup
Emily's wonderful baking powder biscuits

Homemade Chai Tea
4 slices ginger root
1 T. anise seed
1 T. green cardamon pods
1 T. cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. peppercorns
1 T. vanilla

Cover and simmer above ingredients (except vanilla) for 20 minutes in 14 cups of water.  Turn off heat and add 3T. Darjeeling Tea.  Steep covered for 10 minutes.  Strain tea and add 1 T. vanilla,  2/3 cup of honey, and 1 cup of cream or milk.

Some friends from India taught us to keep our ginger root in the freezer.  This works really well.  The frozen root is fairly easy to slice or grate.

After I strain the tea, I just cannot throw away all those wonderful spices, so I fill my pot back up with about a gallon of water and let the water sit in the pot with the herbs for the rest of the day.  In the evening, I strain the tea off into a pitcher and put it in the refrigerator.  The next day we have more Chai Tea to drink - hot or cold! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Health Journal - Persistent Cough

When Mike and I were first married, Mike used to go through seasons where he would struggle with a dry, nagging cough.  At times he would cough so much he would cough up blood.  Eventually Mike figured out that the chocolate shakes from McDonald's would make him cough.  Actually, most pasteurized dairy would do this to him.  Back in those days- not knowing any better- we switched to soy milk and then to rice milk.  Thankfully it wasn't long before we found a good source for raw goats milk.

Recently Mike had another bout with a nagging cough.  I am not sure what brought it on, and he had no other symptoms.  After listening to him cough for about a week, I decided to get involved. :)  I put him on Vitamin C.  Unfortunately it's kinda hard to keep track of him (he is so busy!), so he wasn't taking it as often as I would have liked.  Nevertheless I persisted.  Then I started giving him a thyme tincture that I made last summer.  After several days of this with little progress, I switched to my Elder flower tincture, hoping to boost his immune system.  The cough persisted for another week.  Frustrated, I went back to my books.

Finally I found a remedy that worked - Wild Cherry Bark!  This native American tree was made known to the colonist by the Indian healers.  In the early days of our country is was one of the most popular and widely used medicinal herbs.  Now you know why most cough syrups come in a cherry flavor. :)  (now artificial flavored of course!)
Wild Cherry Bark

Wild Cherry Bark infusion
I  made this remedy once years ago for one of the kids and had forgotten about it (we don't deal with coughs very often).  After two doses, Mike said, "Honey, I think your potion is working!" :)  After twenty-four hours his cough had toned down and was less frequent.  This simple remedy is nothing more than a Wild Cherry Bark infusion (tea).  All you do is boil two cups of water.  Then pour 1 ounce (about 1/3 of a cup) of Cherry Bark into the water.  Cover and let sit for 3-4 hours.  After that, you strain out the bark and drink 2-3 ounces, 3-4 times a day.  Now, I have to tell you that since I was feeling desperate, I let the infusion sit overnight.  This made it really strong.  The taste is fairly palatable, with a mild cherry aftertaste, but you can sweeten it with honey if you like.  This infusion will help with  asthma, bronchitis, colds, and the flu.

Practical Herbalism: Ordinary Plants With Extraordinary Powers[Paperback]I buy most of the herbs that I don't grow myself from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They have very high quality herbs and great customer service.   You can get a 1 lb. bag of Wild Cherry Bark for $8.00, and it will last you for a long time.  If you want to work towards taking care of yourself and your family without prescription medications, I would recommend you keep this on hand.  Here's the link to Wild Cherry Bark
The recipe comes from one of my favorite herb books, Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey.  This is another great investment!  If you want to learn how to make your own herbal remedies, this book will teach you how.

One more thought about coughs...I was able to keep Mike's cough under control at night by combining shea butter (You could use any carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil.) and Eucalyptus essential oil. I rubbed this on his feet and chest. This works great for a cough that is preventing sleep! The feet have the largest pores in the body, so that is why you want to make sure you put the oil on the feet.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Farm Kitchen Menu - March 3rd

Here's a great menu for lunch!  We had this last week.

mixed greens
HF hard boiled eggs
grated cheese
diced tomatoes
diced avocado
celery slices
shredded cabbage

Homemade French Dressing (see recipe below)

Winter Squash with coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup on top - yum!

Homemade French Dressing Recipe:
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp.  Braggs liquid aminos or Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. 

This dressing has been a family favorite for many years and our guests always like it too! :)  It is very rare that we buy salad dressing.  They are so easy to make, not to mention healthier and cheaper when homemade too. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 8

In spite of the 8 inches of fresh snow, our garden is growing great!  Well, sort of, it's our indoor garden under the grow lights in the garage.  Last week I posted our article on "Seed Starting", and already by day three there was some gratification as little onion shoots were just breaking through the soil.  By day eight most of the onions are up and I've needed to lower the trays a few inches further from the lights.  The rosemary is another story entirely.  According to the seed packet it takes around 21 days just to germinate!  According to Mindy it took all that and more last year.

Enjoy the snow while you can, it won't be here long.  :)

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